Tag Archives: hedges

Summer – Phew What A Scorcher!

Well after the poor weather reported in the last post things have taken a much warmer turn. We’ve had temperatures over 25degC the last few days and exceeding 30degC yesterday and today. The prospect for the rest of the week s for temperatures between 25 and 30. All this means that is is far too hot to work in the garden during the middle of the day and afternoon and of course there is plenty of watering to do!

Nevertheless it all has to be done and the good thing is of course that we are in the period of maximum daylight at the moment so working in the garden is possible until just about 10pm (and of course from about 5am if necessary).

The flowers are looking good as a result, but keeping the climbing and dwarf beans well watered has been quite tricky. The bonus point about the good weather is that it has brought on some serious harvesting with some of the crops, most notably the strawberries as you can see:

The strawberry bed and fruit

One of the strawberry harvests (since had one with over a kilo of fruit!)

Elsewhere the mangetout peas are producing and we’ve been eating them in salads and steaming them with other veg for hot meals:

Mangetout peas waiting to be harvested – note the ‘eye protection’ on top of the cane.

The climbing beans had one ore two almost ready to be picked, but the plants themselves still look a bit scrawny and in fact one of the the original plantings had to be replaced with the more recent sowing as it clearly was not going to amount to anything even though it was still alive – just!

Climbing Beans – overview plus Cucumber plant

Climbing Beans – almost ready for picking

What were baby cucumbers a couple of weeks ago have suddenly become the size they should be picked!

Cucumber – should be pick I think

The dwarf/french beans seem to be hardly growing much, though all bar one are surviving:

French/dwarf beans – compare with the last post – not much change

The tomatoes in the greenhouse meanwhile are coming along nicely with fruit on all the plants:

Tomatoes in the greenhouse

The bush style plants near the kitchen seem to be doing ok with a mass of foliage and flowers:

‘Tumbling Tom’ plants growing well

On top of all this I had to hastily get the mesh cover over the redcurrant bushes at the end of last week as the redcurrants were ripening rapidly. If I don’t get them covered in time the birds will have them!

Ripening redcurrants – protected!

Plus the gooseberries aren’t far off being ready

Ripening gooseberries

I’ve also planted some more mangetout pea seedlings since starting this post yesterday and harvested a foot-long cucumber. I’ve also harvested a large enough quantity of mangetout peas to warrant blanching and freezing (too much for us to eat just now) and over 1lb of strawberries! This means we’ve probably harvested around 2 kilos of strawberries altogether – pretty good really.

In top of all the above had been the routine maintenance of course, mowing the lawn, cutting the hedges and weeding of course. The rainy period followed by sunshine has just encouraged growth of course. So it’s a pretty continuous process – once I’ve cut all the hedges etc. it’s about time to start again. Also, the hedge cutting in the ‘flower’ end of the garden right now is more tricky than ever as all the border plants, which grow right up to the hedges, have to be protected while cutting – it’s a real nightmare.

Wildlife

No trail camera results really since last post and no real changes in the birds arriving at the feeding points. I have seen some baby blackbirds being fed by their parents on the lawn though and I suspect the robins may have a second brood (or a different nest  judging by the noise coming from the hedge on one side.

One squirrel made into the garden and has been taken on holiday…..

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A New Year – Not much goin’ on

Well here we are in February and the garden is a wasteland – full of weeds as the winter hasn’t really been that cold (9 degC on Thursday!) so they have kept on growing and the lawn is muddy as we’ve had enough rain just to keep it wet.

All in all I’ve not felt much like working in the garden and there have been more important things to deal with inside in any case. I’m also missing encouragement  from my neighbour (no longer here).

All I’ve done recently is a bit of hedge cutting – particularly in the flower border area as it’s the best time to give it a good cut (the section is mainly holly) while the perennials etc. aren’t growing. I’ve also chopped down the remains of the nettle patch at the bottom of the garden. I’m hoping to insert an open composting heap into that area this year as I seem to be generating so much compost now – three bins on the go!

Regardless of my efforts things are growing – the garlic is coming along nicely and the two rows of ‘The Sutton’ broad beans are now up (see below)

Broad Beans just appearing

Broad Beans just appearing

The fact that the Autumn planted beans are up highlights the fact that I should be spending some time in the greenhouse getting some more beans planted into pots – I’ve just restored the WiFi connection in the greenhouse in anticipation – well sitting in there planting needs a bit of entertainment!

Bulbs are springing up all over the place of course and soon there will be daffodils appearing in flower all over the garden – but first of course are the snowdrops – not quite open yet though (see below) but this year there will be more patches of snowdrops thanks to some planting a couple of years ago.

Snowdrops - not quite open

Snowdrops – not quite open

Wildlife

A recent review of the trailcam set on the lawn watching the bird ground feeding spot near the house revealed a fox having a good look round, as well as the usual cat etc. Some good pictures of robins and dunnocks but strangely no mice at night. No hedgehogs either so maybe they are actually hibernating just now.

A couple of squirrels need to be evicted during the last month as well…

Almost Finished Harvesting

Now that Autumn is officially here things are winding down in the garden of course and harvesting of produce is running down – apart from the tomatoes that is!

Tomatoes outside the kitchen

Tomatoes outside the kitchen – notice how some have split and aren’t really much use now

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse - pomodoro

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse – pomodoro

The pomodoro seem rather more prone than others to various ailments as you can see. Still they are good for making tomato sauce for pasta..

I must admit I haven’t been doing a lot in the garden over the last few weeks, partly because I’ve been busy with other things, but also apart from the harvesting it is the time of year when most of the work is tidying up and pulling stuff out of the ground or pruning rather than planting.

That said I do have a collection of ‘spring flowering’ plants in the greenhouse which I need to put in place before too long and I have some bulbs to plant so it’s not going to be all tidying…..

The climbing beans are past the point of being collected though there are plenty of pods still on the vines. I may save some of them for next year – but I’m not sure if they are F1 hybrids. Anyway, I think I have some left in the packet…. They were better than the variety from last year, though one of the vines that grew purple coloured pods produced very few pods. As the beans are a mixture it will just be pot luck next year unless the saved beans germinate….. The dwarf beans are also past their best and I don’t think there are any worth picking now.

Climbing Beans - past their best

Climbing Beans – past their best

The mangetout peas lasted until the other day and I didn’t get round to planting any more during the last few weeks.

Mangetout ready for picking

Mangetout ready for picking – since eaten!

The courgette plants as usual were far too fecund from two plants. Even though the variety produced yellow courgettes and were easier to spot some still managed to hide until they were massive – so I’m sorry to say some went straight to compost. Well there were plenty of other small ones to eat and there is only so much that can be done with courgette….

One of the smaller courgettes....

One of the smaller courgettes….

We also had just enough cucumbers – there were two plants, one bought as a seedling and one from seed. The bought plant, grown under the ‘door’, produced several cumbers and the died a few weeks ago for no apparent reason. Meanwhile the plant grown from seed, which I planted  in a container, barely survived attacks from slugs and pigeons and had to be protected under plastic for a few weeks. Eventually though it thrived and produced a couple of cucumbers, and is still alive though may not produce any more but we’ll see.

Sweet peppers in the greenhouse - the big one is turning red now

Sweet peppers in the greenhouse –

The peppers in the greenhouse are doing ok. The sweet peppers have fairly chunky peppers and the chilli variety plants have quite a few peppers, but not yet ripening apart from a plant in the kitchen.

The raspberries I planted produced until a couple of weeks ago – enough to keep me with some for breakfasts and for some to be frozen. The ones growing in the hedge near the greenhouse are producing just now – I had about a dozen with my breakfast this morning.

There is still the odd strawberry ripening – if I can get to them before the slugs or birds they are a handy addition to my breakfast.

A couple of the strawberrie

A couple of the strawberries

Meanwhile the grapes in the greenhouse are just about ready. The plan is to produce grape juice this year, I just need to get the bits and pieces together ready.

Bunches of ripe grapes - I've picked them just this evening to make grape juice

Bunches of ripe grapes – I’ve picked them just this evening to make grape juice

There is a big chunk of work coming up dealing with the hedges though – especially when the brambles have finally stopped producing (I’m still hoping to harvest some more) but most haven’t been properly cut since late spring and some have really grown.

Some of the remaining brambles

Some of the remaining brambles – there are better ones elsewhere though

I must get round to digging up the potatoes as well – the tops have died back almost completely.

Wildlife

The trail cam deployed recently on the lawn showed two hedgehogs together and a young hedgehog has been wandering around in daylight as well – and it is small enough to get through the protection cage around the ground feeding station so the camera caught it inside a couple of times.

There have been ‘visitations’ of greenfinches to the feeder with sunflower seeds a few times recently and they can empty it in a couple of days. It also rather annoys the great tits who can’t get near the seeds for the greenfinches and they regard the feeder as theirs normally.

I have seen a squirrel around the garden a couple of times but not round the bird feeders as yet so it is safe – for now….

 

Not Raining – So Busy Again

It was fine and actually sunny mostly today until late afternoon when drops of rain started falling. I was pretty tired by then so I gave up having achieved quite a bit.

The main focus was actually on flowers today, but first thanks to the weather, I had to tackle the lawn edges as the grass had grown so much that I wouldn’t be able to plant bedding plants in the borders. That was tedious enough but I also needed to tackle the bit of ‘hedge’ near the kitchen which was getting out of hand (mostly winter flowering jasmine with some clematis and a climber the name of which I can’t remember just now).

That lot being done I needed a sit down so next I tackled the two hanging baskets I hadn’t filled yet (I filled two a few days ago and now they are hanging by the kitchen). I used verbena and some lobelias.

Since some of the sunflower plants I had planted out a month or so ago had not survived I’ve plated some more – this time several varieties (‘teddy bear’, ‘paquito’, ‘sunrise’ and ‘irish eyes’. They are all small to medium height sunflowers, not the very tall ones.

Some ‘astroemenia’ plants that came through the post a week or so ago needed potting on before planting out so I got that job done as well.

The only vegetable wok was to put a cucumber plant (‘marketmore’), which had been outside the greenhouse for a couple of days, into an old large container.

Oh and I planted some mixed salad seed (‘cos lettuce mix’) into a large pot – I’m going to keep it in the greenhouse until the seeds sprout.

Looking at the tomato plants in the container near the kitchen, I suspect one of the original plants isn’t going to make it – fortunately I have a ‘tumbling tom’ plant (still small though) in a pot in the greenhouse so I can replace if necessary.

That was enough I think!

Sunny – so bin gardenin’

Yes, temperatures over 12deg. and sunshine tempted me outdoors today. Even the greenhouse automatic skylights were open and the temperature inside was over 30deg. – I know as I was sowing seeds  in there!

Quite a few jobs done today. Firstly, dealing with things in the greenhouse, some of the flower seedlings out of the propagators (which I unplugged) which made room for a half-tray of gaillardia and tagetes (tray split down the middle). I have reasonable numbers of geraniums that have germinated, but in the tray of nicotiana seeds although many germinated a few have keeled over as I think the compost got too dry…

I also sowed some more sweet peppers in a small pot as well as some sunflowers (paquito & teddy bear) which are now on the kitchen window sill.

Some of the tomato seedlings – especially the ‘pomodoro’ are now big enough to consider planting on – I’m going to have to buy some growbags next week I think….

I finally got the remaining polyanthus and bellis seedlings planted out as well in containers and the front garden.

Big news – the first broad bean shoots have shown through in the raised bed! So we’ll see over the next few days how many have germinated and avoided being taken by birds etc.

First broad bean shoots!

First broad bean shoots!

Next to the bed with the broad beans is the ‘garlic’ bed – and they are coming along fine except for one which has gone missing in one corner….

Garlic growing well

Garlic growing well

I checked on the rhubarb- normally covered with an old water tub and it won’t be long before we can have a rhubarb pie hopefully.

Rhubarb coming on nicely

Rhubarb coming on nicely

The fruit bushes near to the rhubarb are low coming into leaf – here is a pic from one of the blackcurrant bushes:

Blackcurrant just coming into leaf

Blackcurrant just coming into leaf

The sweet pea seedlings delivered recently are now all planted in the garden as well.

The container for carrots has been ‘refreshed’ with some more compost with some plant food mixed in.

Carrot container (an old cod water tank supported well off the ground

Carrot container (an old cod water tank supported well off the ground)

I also had to do some hedge cutting and finished cutting up the Christmas tree to go into the garden ‘green’ bin along with the hedge cuttings.

Just to illustrate the spring time in the garden here is a picture of the primroses in flower in the ‘wild’ part of the garden.

Primroses in full flower

Primroses in full flower

Mind some of these have been in flower for at least 6 weeks!

Wildlife

The birds have definitely upped their feeding and I have seen a couple of house sparrows around feeding on seeds – we used to have a large population of house sparrows but they are a rarity now sadly. Long tailed tits have been around as well plus the usual great and blue tits. The blackbirds may have started to try and delineate their territories as I have seen some disputed breaking out on the lawn.

Other than that there were a few butterflies around during the sunny days – brimstone and a darker one that didn’t hang around long enough for me to identify it.

I’ve Bin Plantin!

Yes, progress at last. Weather is still all over the place with rain, wind, some sun and this morning a frost (first for a while) and temperatures varying from 0 to +13degC in the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, I was finally prompted into action by a bit of sunshine and planted a whole raised bed with broad beans. I should have planted some last autumn really but  somehow I missed that opportunity. Two varieties – ‘aquadulce’ and ‘the sutton’ – about half the bed each. Planted, as usual, much closer than recommended but who has the space they want you to use? This is more space dedicated to broad beans than usual but I do have more beds to fill!

The garlic plated a couple of weeks ago is now just producing shoots although I notice the tops of some have been nibbled – I suspect pigeons!  The strawberry plants are now coming on – apart from a few (see bottom LH corner of pic below) – I will be talking to the supplier about them!:

Strawberry plantlets mostly growing now

Strawberry plantlets mostly growing now

Just today I’ve had to cut the holly hedge on one side of the garden – which has been growing regardless of the time of the year, plus I’ve pruned some of the blackcurrant bushes – though there are still more to do….

Just to illustrate further the way things are growing here are the daffodils in my lawn – they have been in full flower for more than a week now (compare with last post):

Lovely daffodils!

Lovely daffodils! Now fully out

Wildlife

The trailcam at the bottom of the garden has revealed that at least one hedgehog is still active thanks to the warm winter. Also I’ve spotted a different fox from our regular visitor – which is easily recognisable by having a very thin tail, not very brush-like. The new one has a proper ‘brush’, the the ‘thin tail’ one is still around.

Weather Fine – been Plantin’ & Sowin’

A couple of days over the Easter period has seen me in a relative frenzy of activity in the garden as the weather has been pretty good (about 20degC max to day for instance). In fact so sunny it has been pretty uncomfortable in the greenhouse in the middle of the day.

So over the Easter weekend I sowed a couple more cucumber seeds, the previously sowed seedlings are now producing proper leaves in their pots now, but I want to have some ‘spare’ plants – it will probably mean a glut of cucumber though….

Cucumber seedlings

Cucumber seedlings

Other seeds sown inside were – sweet basil (some old seed which may not germinate , so its a test really), and some small sunflowers from a pack of different sunflower varieties I found the other day.

Outside I sowed a row of pak choi (next to the turnip row), and next to that a row of swiss chard. In the furthest bed away from the house I put in a couple of rows of rooster’ potatoes and a row of ‘maya gold’ (both varieties left from last year and sprouting nicely).

The mangetout peas had been outside for a day or so and I planted them in the bed nearest the greenhouse in a double row lengthwise and the aguadulce broad beans that were ready in the beds with rows of beans already.

Yesterday I planted a couple of pots of climbing beans (‘fasold’ – a variety I haven’t tried before). I probably plant some more when I see how they get on. Today, a couple of pots of chilli pepper seeds (;peruvian lemon drop’).

Meanwhile the tomato seedlings are coming on fine:

Pomodoro seedlings

Pomodoro seedlings

 

Outside today – a row of ‘lollo rosso’ lettuce (alongside the chard row). Also, I’ put another set of ‘aguadulce’ beans outside ready to plant out. Some of the existing bean plants are in flower already!

broad_bean_plants

 

In flower!

In flower!

The big job today though was pruning the holly hedge on the RH side (looking down from the house) – that hedge is more a collection of holly trees than a normal hedge – but needs the branches trimming to reduce the shading of the beds below. I recently acquired a ‘branch lopper’ which is adjustable in length, so I could lop branches much higher than I have been able to reach before, which was handy. I also had a go at the yew tree at the bottom of the garden, which has rather gone mad over the last few years and cut back a load of branches. This had the side effect of providing me with a number of ‘canes’ that I can use as supports (yew wood doesn’t rot in the ground easily) so was a worthwhile exercise.

Wildlife

Well you could tell it was warm today, I saw two peacock, a sulphur yellow and maybe a cabbage white butterflies – amazing. Also, the trail cam a the bottom of the garden revealed a hedgehog wandering through overnight a couple of days ago (as well as a couple of different cats!), Bumble bees and ‘bee-flies’ were also around today.

peacock_bfly

Peacock Butterfly

 

Birds, however, haven’t been that exciting. The great and blue tits visit the sinflower seed feeder regularly and blackbirds have been squabbling over territory plus the robins have been around (especially when I’m out gardening). Apart from that not really much going on.